I was recently contacted by a woman involved in a slip and fall accident in Illinois. She stepped off a sidewalk, tripped and fell on a damaged patch of concrete in the street. The city or a contractor of the city had fixed the dangerous condition shortly after she reported the accident and she wanted to use that evidence against them. Can she? Read this article to learn more or contact my office at 847-305-4105.
Effort to Remediate a Dangerous Condition
Generally speaking, efforts to remediate a dangerous condition after a slip and fall accident in Illinois are not admissible against the defendant to prove that the defendant was negligent. As such, in the case above, the fact that the city repaired the dangerous condition after the accident would not be admissible at trial to prove the city was negligent in maintaining the street.
This sounds illogical doesn’t it? If they fixed the dangerous condition, they must have recognized that there was something wrong. If there was something wrong and they did nothing about it, they should be responsible.
Matter of Public Policy
Sometimes the law doesn’t make a lot of sense. But there are legitimate reasons (sometimes called “public policy reasons”) why we don’t allow the use of this type of evidence.
The main reason being, that we want to encourage a property owner to make repairs to it’s property after (and before) a slip and fall accident occurs. If accident victims were able to use the fact that the dangerous condition was repaired as evidence of negligence, then property owners would never fix the dangerous conditions.
That would result in such a dangerous condition remaining and potentially additional injuries occurring. Therefore, the public policy is to encourage the property owner to make the repairs. Unfortunately, the individual who fell might suffer as a result.
Rule of Law
The rule regarding efforts to remediate a dangerous condition is actually codified – meaning set forth in a statute at both the federal and state levels.
In Federal Court, Federal Rule of Evidence 407 Subsequent Remedial Measures, provides in part that “When measures are taken that would have made an earlier injury or harm, less likely to occur, evidence of subsequent measures is not admissible to prove:
- culpable conduct
- a defect in a product or its design; or
- a need for a warning or instruction
FRE 407 also provides that there are exceptions to the rule including, among others, using the efforts to remediate to prove ownership or control of the property.
A quick tip for anyone who was involved in a slip and fall accident in Illinois on a sidewalk, street or other property maintained by a governmental entity.
The timeline within which a claim can be filed against a government entity is shorter in Illinois than it is to file a claim against a private property owner.
So if you are injured in an auto accident, involved in a slip and fall accident or any other type of claim involving a governmental employee or on government property, do not delay. Contact a personal injury lawyer immediately to find out how to pursue your claim for damages.
I am always available to consult with you regarding your accident. If I can’t help you, I may know someone who can. So feel free to reach out to me at 847-305-4105.